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Mar 17, 2023

Hey ChatGPT, How Can AI Help my Business?

Sponsored Content provided by Heather McWhorter - Director, UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

We have been hearing about artificial intelligence (AI) for years, but with the onset (controversy?) about ChatGPT, AI has made the headlines once again. In fact, if you search online for the term “ChatGPT” you receive 596 million results in 0.55 seconds. This is especially noteworthy because “ChatGPT” did not exist until November 2022 – 5 months ago as of this column. 
This Insights is a pause about what all of this means. What is AI? What is ChatGPT? How can it help my business?
To get started, let’s ask ChatGPT: “What is AI?
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think, reason, and learn like humans. AI technologies are designed to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. AI systems use a variety of techniques including machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, and computer vision to analyze data, recognize patterns, and make predictions or decisions. AI has many applications in fields such as healthcare, finance, transportation, manufacturing, and entertainment, and is poised to have a profound impact on society in the coming years.” – by ChatGPT
In simple terms: AI is teaching machines to think like humans so we can be more efficient.
With me so far? Now, let’s ask ChatGPT: “What is ChatGPT?
I am ChatGPT, a large language model developed by OpenAI. I am an AI-based conversational agent that can answer a wide range of questions and carry on natural language conversations with users. I have been trained on a massive dataset of text from the internet, which has enabled me to develop an understanding of a wide range of topics and domains. My goal is to assist users in finding information, providing insights, and facilitating natural language communication in a variety of contexts.” – by ChatGPT
This is one example of a way that AI can be used. I recommend visiting and setting up an account. Ask it questions or ask it to write text for you. Test it out to see what it does. It will pull information from the internet to provide text to you. Note: There are no guarantees that the information is correct. Also, a lot of the controversy about ChatGPT is coming from academic settings. If students need to write an essay, how will professors be able to tell if the essay is generated by ChatGPT? 
OK, now let’s get to your business. Let’s ask ChatGPT about broader use of AI to see how it can help: “How can AI be used for startup businesses?
AI can be incredibly useful for startup businesses in a variety of ways, including:

  1. Automating processes: AI can help automate many processes, from customer service to marketing campaigns to financial reporting, which can save time and money.
  2. Personalizing experiences: By analyzing customer data, AI can help startups deliver personalized experiences to their customers, which can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  3. Enhancing decision-making: AI can help startups make better, data-driven decisions by analyzing large amounts of data and identifying trends and patterns that humans might miss.
  4. Improving product development: AI can be used to analyze customer feedback and behavior, which can help startups identify areas for improvement in their products and services.
  5. Enabling predictive maintenance: AI can help startups predict when equipment or machinery might fail, which can help prevent downtime and save money on repairs.
  6. Streamlining logistics: AI can help startups optimize their supply chain and logistics operations by analyzing data and identifying areas for improvement.
Overall, AI can help startups operate more efficiently, make better decisions, and deliver better products and services to their customers, all of which can help them grow and succeed in a competitive market. However, it's important for startups to carefully consider their specific needs and goals when implementing AI, and to work with experienced AI professionals to ensure they are using the technology effectively and ethically.” – by ChatGPT
With AI and startups, it will depend on your product/service and customer. Often, the most attention is on AI applications for high-impact, venture-backable startups. However, I recently listened to this fascinating TedTalk “How AI could empower any business” by Andrew Ng in which he discussed democratizing AI and broad adoption by small business. In it, he provides an example of small pizzeria being able to better predict what type of pizza would be purchased that day so they can plan accordingly. He also compares the current pushback against AI to the pushback against literacy a few hundred years ago. Interesting.
Finally, just for fun, let’s ask ChatGPT one more question. “Tell me about Wilmington, NC.
Wilmington is a coastal city located in southeastern North Carolina, United States. It is the county seat of New Hanover County and has a population of around 120,000 people. The city is situated on the Cape Fear River and is just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean.
Wilmington has a rich history, with roots dating back to the early colonial period. It was an important port city during the American Revolution and the Civil War, and many historic sites and landmarks still remain in the area today. Some of the most notable include the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial, the Bellamy Mansion Museum, and the Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts.
Wilmington is also known for its beautiful beaches, which draw tourists from around the world. Some of the most popular beaches in the area include Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach. The city is also home to many parks and outdoor recreation areas, including Airlie Gardens, Greenfield Lake Park, and Long Leaf Park. 
In addition to its rich history and natural beauty, Wilmington is also a thriving economic center. It has a strong tourism industry, as well as a growing film industry that has earned it the nickname "Hollywood East". The city is also home to several colleges and universities, including the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College.
Overall, Wilmington offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a popular destination for visitors and a great place to live for its residents.” – by ChatGPT
Do you agree? See any mistakes? I wholeheartedly agree on what the AI-based ChatGPT found about our city: we have a rich history, natural beauty, and a thriving economy. ChatGPT incorrectly named Long Leaf Park by its prior name, so I updated that already (in bold). I’m not naming it here so incorrect information does not get reinforced on the Internet.
Back to business applications. My recommendation? Think big. Talk with experts. Talk with customers. Know your competition. And, most importantly, don’t be afraid of technology. Be curious and have fun!
Heather McWhorter, MS, PE, is the director of the UNC Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is not an AI expert but is a technology advocate and will help you to find one if interested! CIE is a resource for high-impact start-ups and the early-stage business community to help diversify the local economy with innovative solutions. For more information, visit

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